Total Production: 200 1984 - 1986
The Ford RS200 was designed to comply with FIA homologation regulations and based on Ford's Group B Rally car. Homologation rules stated that 200 examples of road-going versions must be created in order to compete in rally racing. The vehicle was so perfect that it held the Guinness Book of Records for being the world's fastest accelerating car.
The vehicle was created by Ford of Britain. It was based heavily on the European version of the Escort though its chassis was designed by a former Formula 1 designer named Tony Southgate. John Wheeler used his F1 engineering background to aid in the development. The vehicle was given all-wheel drive and a mid-mounted engine. Weight distribution was further improved by placing the transmission at the front of the car. Production lasted from 1984 through 1986. The body was constructed of a plastic and fiberglass composite and designed by the legendary firm, Ghia. The suspension was made up of a double-wishbone setup with twin dampers on all wheels. The engine was an l.8 liter Ford four-cylinder unit with Cosworth modifications. A turbocharger helped produce 250 horsepower for the road-going versions and around 350 for the racing versions. Though some of the racing engines were highly tuned and produced horsepower in the 400 through 450 range.
Ford created the 200 road-going versions of the RS200 in compliance with FIA rules. They created additional spare parts that could have created in excess of twenty extra vehicles. These parts were earmarked for the racing efforts.
With a potent engine, lightweight construction, excellent weight distribution, and all-wheel drive the Ford RS200 was theoretically the ultimate machine. In reality, it lagged in the power-to-weight ratio in comparison to other vehicles. Also, the engine produced low-RPM lag which made it difficult to be competitive.
The Ford RS200 best finish in Group B rallying competition came in 1986 at the WRC Rally of Sweden where it placed third. It did achieve mild success in other classes outside of Group B competition and it may have seen more in the Group B class but after one year of racing, the FIA disbanded the Group B and the RS200 became obsolete. The decision to disband came after Henri Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Crestos died in an accident at the 1986 Tour de Course. Officials made the decision that the cars were too fast and posed too many safety risks. This was unfortunate on many fronts. The Group B racing was very competitive and just as exciting. To combat their shortcomings, Ford had planned on resolving the vehicle's problems with the introduction of an 'Evolution' version. The upgraded engine was estimated to produce between 525 and 800 horsepower. The rest of the vehicle's components were to receive attention such as the suspension, brakes, chassis, and more. Zero-to-sixty was estimated to take around two seconds.
Out of the 200 examples created, around 24 were later converted to the 'Evolution' status.
By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2006